Two people have died and a main road is blocked after a serious crash near Whakapapa in the central North Island.

Police were called to the scene at the intersection of State Highways 47 and 48 at 6.40am when a truck and van collided.

The road is expected to be closed for some time while the Serious Crash Unit investigates.

Diversions are in place at the scene.


It's the second deadly crash on New Zealand roads in the last 24 hours. A male died after a single car crash in Hikurangi, Northland about 10.30pm yesterday.

Read more: One dead, one serious after North Island crashes

This morning's double fatal crash brings the road death toll to 72 so far this year. At the same time last year it was 68.

Police and road safety advocates last month revealed the 2018 road toll was tracking towards more than 400, after a horror start to the year on roads around the country.

During the first six weeks of the year 50 people were killed in road crashes.

Read more: Road toll leaps up in a summer of death on the roads

This was 10 more than during that time last year. It had also exceed the figures for the same period in each of the previous nine years.

The average number of deaths across the decade at the start of the year period was 39. The lowest was 28, in 2013.

If the trend for 2018 so far continued for the rest of the year, the road toll would exceed 400.

"What a disgrace for our country," said Superintendent Steve Greally, national manager of road policing.

Automobile Association spokesman Dylan Thomsen said that after the annual road toll dropped to 253 in 2013 - its lowest level since 1950, when 232 people died - it was hoped it would go below 200 by 2020.

"Now we are looking at more like a level of 400 deaths a year, which is horrific."